30 November 2007 – 75% of Nigerians may have power by 2020, said Mrs Fatima Ibrahim, minister of state for energy in charge of power, this week. Speaking in Abuja, she noted that only 40% of the population currently had access to electricity.
"On electricity the (National Energy) Policy articulates that the nation shall continue to engage intensively in the development of electric power with a view to making reliable electricity available to 75% of the population by 2020. It is however disheartening to note that access to electricity is hovering at about 40% of the population."
Rural areas are those with the lowest electrification rates, and the minister said this stressed the place that renewable energy had in meeting the needs of these citizens.
"Unfortunately, the largest proportion of the deficiency is in the rural areas where about 70 per cent of our population resides. In order to fill this wide gap in a sustainable manner, renewable energy, which now contributes to more than 16% in meeting the nation’s demand for electricity needs to progressively play a greater role within the short, medium and long term planning horizon.
She continued, "While the federal government will continue to improve on the enabling environment for investment in renewables, may I seize the opportunity of this forum to call on the private sector to actively partner with the federal, state and local governments in meeting the emerging challenge in resolving the prevailing energy crisis."
Nigeria has abundant solar resources, with radiation intensity ranging from 3.5kWh/sqm/day in the south to 7kWh/sqm/day in the north.
"It is imperative for all stakeholders to work towards harnessing this renewable resource for the benefit of the nation and the global environment," the minister said.
"This provides a great opportunity for states and local governments to provide appropriate access to electricity for isolated communities in an off-grid manner."
The Federal Government, she announced, would soon be undertaking studies on the implementation of large scale solar farms, with the electricity being fed into the national grid.